In the patient care world, there are a lot of words that cause people to recoil. One of them is hospice. To better understand this organization, it’s best to find out if that automatic reaction is necessary. Most of the information in this article was explained to me by the hospice organization we are using. The rest is personal experience.
If you’re on hospice care, death is imminent.
There are websites that refer to it as “end of life care, but it isn’t necessarily a death sentence. Many people on hospice do die, but there are those who “graduate” off hospice. I am personally aware of more than one case where this has happened.
Hospice care is expensive.
Medicare and most insurance companies cover hospice care. The patient and/or patient’s family don’t have to pay a penny out of pocket. This includes medicines, nurse visits and all medical areas the patient needs.
Hospice only takes care of the patient.
Hospice provides counseling, social workers and spiritual advisers for both the patient and the family. Grief counseling for the family is extended through the first year after any death. The spiritual councilor may also provide support for the family, as needed.
Hospice workers are likely to over or under medicate.
Neither of these is true, according to Hospice of the West. The goal of hospice is to keep the patient comfortable and conscious. Pain levels will be kept to a two or under on a 1-10 pain scale. At first, the medication may make the patient drowsy, but once adjustments are made, the patient should be able to be conscious and alert. The medical condition may cause the patient to fade in and out, but hospice knows how to judge when there is pain and keep even an unconscious patient comfortable.
Hospice shouldn’t be called in until the last few days.
Please don’t do that to yourself or the patient. A person can be on hospice for up to six months, sometimes longer. If hospice is called in earlier, both the patient and the family can receive the kind of counseling and support they need. Pain can be controlled so that there is meaningful time between all members of the family.
The family has to be with the patient 24/7
That is dependent on a few things. If the doctor has ordered 24/7 care, the family may need to provide some or all of it. However, hospice does provide respite care for up to five days. This allows the family to take a break. If you need this aspect of hospice, make use of it. It really is better for both you and the patient. You can’t help if you get sick.
Hospice must be done in a special facility or a hospital.
Hospice can be done there, yes. However, it is up to you and the patient. If the patient would be more comfortable at home, hospice workers will be happy to provide care at home.
I hope this clears up any doubts you may have about hospice services. This is truly a wonderful organization and it makes it much easier to care for a seriously ill family member. Ask the patients doctor if hospice is appropriate and then make use of this valuable service.